10 Nov 2017 - 11:25 CET

Dorothee van Vredenburch on connecting purpose, people, performance

On Thursday, 9 November, Dorothee van Vredenburg, NN Group's Chief Change and Organisation and Member of the Management Board, participated in the National Sustainability Congress in the Netherlands.

After an introduction, Dorothee took part in a panel discussion with Jacques van den Broek, CEO of Randstad Holding. They joined Bas van Abel, CEO of Fairphone, and Eelco Blok, CEO of KPN. The session focused on how these different business leaders create impact in their day-to-day work.

‘It is all about connecting the hard business indicators, such as financial goals and results, with the softer business indicators: what drives you, and what you stand for as a company. It comes down to connecting purpose, people and performance. In a successful company, people make the difference. If they believe in what they do, and understand how and to what they contribute, then other stakeholders - like our customers - will notice that. Too much focus on numbers or financial performance can lead to short-term thinking. Too much emphasis on purpose can lead to vagueness. ‘You have to find the right balance,’ Dorothee said.

‘NN Group's goal is to help people secure their financial futures. We want to create long-term value for our stakeholders. Our values – we care, we are clear, and we commit - are an important foundation for this. They truly guide us. Our purpose and values are embedded in everything we do. In order to increase our impact, our sustainability strategy has two primary focus areas:improving financial well-being and responsible investing.’

NN Group wants to be a value-driven organisation. This is a continuous process. If you want to create a culture in which people feel at home and know how to take action, it is important that management sets clear ambitions and walk the talk. ‘Furthermore, we have open dialogues and discuss dilemmas with employees. We do not want to discourage discussion or avoid difficult choices,’ said Dorothee.

In recent years, Dorothee has experienced how important it is to stay close to your purpose. ‘We are confronted with a lot of external developments – such as new regulations, rankings and ratings - and with expectations of different stakeholders, which sometimes can be conflicting. Therefore, it is important to make choices. In doing this, use your purpose and your values as a compass. I am convinced that many of the so-called “non-financial indicators” lead to long-term, sustainable success. Eventually, an organisation is nothing more than the collective capacity of its employees to create value for all stakeholders. By connecting purpose, people and performance.’